Choosing the best prenatal music is a personal decision. One important factor on which to base your decision is the desired effect of playing music to your unborn child. If you are trying to build a bond with your child and influence future musical tastes, it might be a good idea to select music from among your own favorites. If your goal is to provide your child with cognitive advantages, then soothing classical selections such as Mozart would be best. The research seems to indicate that almost any type of prenatal music, with some exceptions, is beneficial.
Some research and anecdotal evidence shows that the use of prenatal music stimulation can enhance a mother's sense of bonding and connectedness with her unborn child. Studies show that the baby's heart rate and respiration may reflect the rhythm of musical selections. Often a mother feels the baby's response to music she enjoys allows her to have an increased sense of the bond between mother and child. The baby will often respond to the music you play with movements such as kicking that you will be able to feel. The best music to select for this purpose could be your own favorite genres and artists to increase the sense of sharing with your child.
Other studies have shown that young children up to 12 months old continue to demonstrate a preference for the prenatal music played for them before they were born. This preference is shown by the child consistently choosing music that was played to them in the womb when given a mechanism for choosing between similar music. Preference is also demonstrated by the calming effects on infants of frequently played prenatal music, and there is some anecdotal evidence showing the effects last well into childhood. The best type of music to choose for this purpose is soothing rhythmic music; strong rhythms have been shown to enhance the calming effect. It's also probably wise to choose music you enjoy, since you may be hearing it a lot.
There have been numerous claims of the "Mozart effect," i.e., that classical music enhances cognitive development; this has been generalized to include prenatal music. Studies have shown that music can stimulate the formation of the neural pathways needed for intellectual, linguistic, and motor development at all ages. Classical music by composers such as Mozart, Bach, and Beethoven, are often recommended as the best choices for you to expose your unborn baby to for these purposes. According to many pediatric specialists, diverse musical choices may also be appropriate to stimulate intelligence and enhance language, spatial, and mathematical abilities.
The bottom line in choosing the best prenatal music is to select works that you enjoy. Classical, soothing, or rhythmic music has been shown to enhance the desired effects, but most musical styles are thought to be beneficial. The exception appears to be hard rock and rap music, which have a lot of discordance that has been shown to have adverse effects and may alter brain structure in negative ways with consistent exposure.